Daily Archives: March 2, 2010

Gideon Rachman

In Japan they think that robotics is going to be the next big thing. If so, I have just met mankind’s future at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Technology.

Paro is a robot pet. She (he/it?) is a baby seal pup, complete with imploring dark eyes, a pink dummy in her mouth and soft white fur. If you stroke her fur, Paro will wriggle appealingly and mew at you. She is also strangely good at making eye contact. The effect is simultaneously kitsch and slightly sinister. Apparently Paro is aimed at people who live in flats and aren’t allowed pets; or at the elderly who are too infirm to look after a live animal. She costs about 350,000 Yen – or almost $4,000.

Next up was Asimo, a human-sized robot in a space suit. Our guide told us proudly that Asimo turned nine this year – Asimo waved cheerfully at us, at this announcement. What this means is that Honda produced the first prototype nine years ago, and have rapidly been improving Asimo ever since. Apparently, he can now run really fast. Read more

Daniel Dombey

By Daniel Dombey,  US diplomatic correspondent

Last night offered a glimpse of the toughness and tirelessness of Hillary Clinton. She was in Buenos Aires, where she came in a gesture of friendliness, so she could confer with President Cristina Fernández on the Argentinian’s home turf. But gestures of goodwill aren’t the same as being a pushover and after Fernandez added to what had been a long day for Clinton by talking for three hours, the secretary of state wasn’t willing to give any ground.

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Daniel Dombey

By Daniel Dombey, US diplomatic correspondent

There was a certain comic opera quality to the Uruguayan presidential inauguration that Hillary Clinton attended today. Compared with neighbouring states such as Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a minnow, though a wealthy, well educated and sometimes idyllic one. Read more